I finally figured it out. Coffeecake need not even waste time pretending to be healthful or even reasonable; it’s not. That’s why you don’t eat it every day or even every month.
In fact, the recipe that I liked most (the one shared below) won because it most resembled what the coffeecakes of my childhood, those boxed coffeecake confections where going for. (I say going for because most of the time they looked better than they tasted, even my kid tastebuds knew this.)
Coffeecakes are a nice excuse for eating cake any time of day. We subscribe to the illusion that cinnamon and nuts—in the form of streusel—or blueberries have the power to transform the richest cake into breakfast fare. -Joy of Cooking
I’m a devotee of Irma Rombauer; even so, each edition of the Joy of Cooking shows a slightly a different way to make coffeecake. I know (from reading this book) that the earliest incarnations of JoC were known particularly for their author’s mastery of German baking. As the editions rolled on, society and trends (quickness, ease, etc.) replaced heritage recipes. I dug around through my stash of JoCs, old and recent, and tried out the oldest yeast version (on my shelf at least), the quick sour cream version and then settled upon a version of the recipe from a 90’s edition, a recipe entitled “Deluxe Sunday Morning Coffeecake”.
There’s enough butter and sugar to float a small raft and as it turns out this is a fine recipe for straight up cake. There is, of course, a little bit of egg and buttermilk and nuts to bring it closer to reasonable.
When it comes to coffeecake, that’s what I want, deluxe.
Gluten-free Dee-luxe Coffeecake
based on the recipe in the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking
makes 1 cake
1. Pull your butter, buttermilk and egg out of the fridge when you wake up, if you remember. Room temp butter is ideal (and the one thing I didn’t have at the outset of my attempt, melted and cooled will work, too).
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-10” springform pan and sprinkle with GF Breadcrumbs (any stale GF bread item, pulsed in a food processor until crumb-like). Turn the pan to spread the crumbs evenly and pour out any excess crumbs.
3. Combine your flours (I combined them in my stand mixer bowl):
- 1 cup finely milled white rice flour (I get mine at the Asian market)
- 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 2 Tbs tapioca starch
- 2 Tbs GF oat flour (save money by preparing them the same way as the bread crumbs, from rolled GF oats milled finely in the food processor)
- 1-1/2 tsp xanthan gum
4. Add to the flour combo and combine thoroughly:
- 1 cup, plus 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
5. Mix 10 Tbs softened butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles large crumbs. Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture, reserving it in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
6. Add 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda to larger bowl of remaining crumbs and incorporate them into the crumbs, then add:
- 1 egg, at room temp
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix until batter is smooth and fully incorporated, either by hand or with your mixer and paddle attachment.
7. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the surface of the cake. Mix into the reserved crumbs:
- 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sprinkle crumble topping over cake and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Good luck following Irma & Marion’s instructions to let the cake cool on a rack for 1-2 hours before serving. Ours lasted on the rack for all of 15 minutes. Place any uneaten portion in an airtight container for up to 3 days on the counter, or freeze in individual servings for future ‘Deluxe Sunday’ mornings.